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Tag: Sean Carlson

St. Vincent de Paul shop, emigration and people at Vintage Day 2013

I met these 3 lovely ladies in the St. Vincent de Paul shop on Thursday last. Tina, Helen and Eileen do great work. Take a bow, ladies.

The very next day I was in the shop again and I took this photo of Pat Dea who is their invaluable helper in the watch and clock department. He was returning a clock that he had restored to working order.

Pictured with Pat are volunteers, Eileen O’Sullivan, Mary Sobieralski and Hannah Mulvihill.


Here we go again

Roadworks on the Tralee to Listowel Road on May 9 2013. It’s all good news though, as this time I was diverted onto a stretch of the new road. The journey to Tralee from Listowel is getting shorter and more enjoyable.


Bridge Street, Newcastlewest 1900


Sunday last, May 12 2013 was Mothers’ Day in the U.S. Sean Carlson, whose mother hails from Moyvane, wrote this lovely article in USA Today;

My grandmother gave birth to 16 children over the course
of 24 years.

            Growing up, my grandmother talked
about becoming a teacher.

            Instead, she gave instruction in a
different way: a living example of love and perseverance.

When I was
twelve, my mom and I often shared a cup of tea when I arrived home from school,
just as if she were still living in Ireland. Listening to her recount memories
of her childhood there, I told her that someday I would write her story.
“What story?” she said. “If there is a story to share, it
belongs to my mother, your grandmother, Nell.”

mother, my grandmother, Nell Sheehan, lived her entire life in the rural
southwest of Ireland. In a different time and a different place over the course
of 24 years, from age 23 until 47 she gave birth to 16 children — eight
daughters, eight sons, no twins. My mom was the 15th.

may have been her calling but growing up, my grandmother had done well in
school and talked about becoming a teacher. That option ended with her
marriage, as such jobs were scarce and available either to single women or male
heads of households, but not allowed to be hoarded by two workers in the one
family. Instead, she gave instruction in a different way: a living example of
love and perseverance.

unable to pursue the possibility of a career outside the farmhouse where she
settled, she insisted that her daughters receive an education or other chances
for advancement. The local primary school, a simple building with two
classrooms, stood within walking distance at the top of the lane. The boys
often stopped attending on account of the farm work. Most of the girls,
however, continued their education. Their mother wanted her daughters to have
opportunities in their lives.

encouraging them to spend time away, the irony was that she destined her girls
for elsewhere. With bleak economic prospects at the time, little choice
remained for them to stay. One after another, they left home — almost all of
them for the United Kingdom or the United States. Every night, their mother
prayed for their protection.

the distance, the mother-child relationship stayed strong through the letters
they wrote: accounts of life in new lands, photographs of grandchildren born
abroad. In this way, my mom learned about many of her sisters and brothers. Her
mother held the notepaper close to her chest, near to her heart, savoring the
words as if the sender were present with her there on the page as well. Then,
she read them aloud to her husband and those still at home.

every envelope included a portion of their earnings as well. How difficult it
is today to imagine enclosing 20% of a weekly salary. Yet, this is what the
children often did for their mother, pleased to think of her being able to buy
fresh tomatoes as a treat or perhaps a haircut in town. After the arrival of
electricity in the area, her oldest son and daughter-in-law bought her even
greater gifts that transformed her life in the home: a washing machine and
later a stove.

My mom
followed in the footsteps of her siblings. Shortly before turning 17, she went
to London with her sister. Whenever she returned home afterwards, traveling by
train, car and ferry, her mom greeted her at the front door of the thatched
farmhouse, so eager for her arrival. Walking her daughter into her room, she sat
on the bed and tapped her hand against the mattress, saying, “tell me all
that has happened since you left.” My mom would then recount the latest
from her sisters and brothers, as well as her experiences away from home.

As her
daughters grew up, my grandmother sometimes confided that she looked forward to
the day when they would return to live nearby, hopefully raising families of
their own near her, able to visit as she aged. Although they didn’t come back
for good, still they remained close. They may have left, but their mother was
with them wherever they went.

A few
years ago, I found a cassette recording from a distant cousin in Florida who
has since passed away. On one of his visits to Ireland decades earlier, he
recorded a conversation with both of my grandparents. As my mom listened to her
mother’s voice for the first time in more than 30 years, the tears came.
Memories flooded back, reminders of the imprint of a mother.

Like every
year, they are there on Mother’s Day. They are there every day.

Sean Carlson
is completing a book about emigration through the lens of his mother’s
experiences, from Ireland to London and the United States.

(This story will be familiar to so many others. I have heard other versions of it recounted in my knitting group by some of those lucky enough to make their way back home, sadly not before the mothers they left behind had passed on.)


Some people I snapped on Vintage Monday

4 Generations of Barretts

Anthony and Nuala McAulliffe and Jim Halpin

 4 Bombshell Belles

Dan Neville ready for road


Ballybunion at night courtesy of Ballybunnion Sea Angling


John Kelliher took the Knockanure communicants  on their big day.

Parents and Friends Garden Fete, the horrors of war and a quiet night in St. John’s

Finally some photos from last Sunday’s Garden Fete

The children did a great job on the scarecrows. There was a Suarez complete with an impressive set of gnashers and a  Paul Galvin holding a football in one hand and a duster in the other. There was even a real living scarecrow mingling among us.

There were great prizes for the Grand raffle. I got no phonecall so I’m presuming I did not win.

My friend and blog collaborator was browsing among the books.

There was money to be won in a variety of ways at this stall.


Some people just came to dance.

(More photos next week)


NKRO posted this picture to set the scene for our wartime commemoration to take place on Saturday. This is a British position which has been captured by the Germans in 1917. The two German soldiers, probably cold and wet, are wearing British issue great coats and it looks like they took the boots off the feet of the dead soldier in the forefront of the picture.

Isn’t war obscene?

Belgium 1917, the Menin Road, Passendale. The walking wounded straggle back to base past the prone bodies of injured survivors who are waiting to be taken to a field hospital.

Cherrytree in bloom in Cherrytree Drive, Listowel this week.


This is a great article by Sean Carlson. He is writing about the global reach of an Irish village and the village he knows best is Moyvane;


Interesting snippet I learned from The Kerryman.

Well known Listowel natives, Maurice (Monty) and Patricia Reagan are in the news again.

One of their horses, Falling Sky has been selected to compete in The Kentucky Derby tomorrow night. Having a runner in the race is a huge honour  as over 2,000 horses were originally entered to compete.

You can read all about it here :

And you can even watch the race live. We will all be cheering if the Newton Anner Stud Farm pair pull off a massive coup.


One thing that never ceases to amaze me about Listowel
people is this. While we have one of the loveliest little theatres in the world
and we have one of the best literary festivals in Europe, why don’t Listowel people
support theatre in town.

Joe Murphy brings shows to St. Johns that pack theatres
elsewhere, but play to very poor houses in Listowel. It’s nothing short of a
disgrace to us all.

 Are we so parochial
that we will only support theatre if it’s a local play with local actors?

Are There More of You? was the very ironically titled show I
attended on Wednesday evening.  It was a
massively entertaining thought- provoking show, a tour de force by a brilliant playwright and actress, Alison Skilbeck…and she played in Listowel to 4 people.

Let me tell North Kerry people what you missed.

Alison played all the parts and she became a different
person each time she changed costume.

The themes of the play were betrayal and redemption and
there was a lot in it that referenced Macbeth:   an ambitious woman, a kind of witch, some bloody hands and a sleep that “knits up the ravelled sleeve of care.”

Are there More of You? is a play about one  woman who is betrayed by her
husband and redeemed by Art; another Italian -English woman who betrays her Italian
Mama but finds redemption in her Italian roots, cooking and opera; a therapist
betrayed by her client and finally an ambitious ball breaker of a woman who is
redeemed through friendship.

This one woman show is continuing its tour so you can see it
in Dingle tonight Friday May 3 2013;  in Birr on Saturday; in the Millbank in
Rush, Co. Dublin on Sunday and all next week from May 6  to Saturday May 11  2013 in the Viking Theatre over The Sheds pub
in Clontarf.

I strongly recommend you try to catch it.

The lovely Alison joined her audience for a chat after the St. John’s show. That is she with the pink hankie. The audience is Noel Keenan, Helen Moylan, Jim Cogan and me behind the camera. 


We have a new bishop of Kerry. We will be getting to know Raymond Browne in the near future.

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